I lost one of my best friends…

Suki and Max

I lost my beautiful boy last week.

It was devastating, both for me and for Suki – the pretty girl on the left.

Suki, Max, and Shadow were litter mates. Suki and Max came to live with me in 2004 at just six weeks old and Shadow went to live with my parents. We foolishly thought they would remember each other and get along like gangbusters – it was not to be….

Shadow

When my parents passed away and Shadow came to live with us, it was a bit rocky at first. But eventually detente was achieved. Then about 4 years ago I got some bad news at the vet. Shadow had a mass in her chest so large it pushed her heart down almost to her hind quarter! This also meant her lungs were compressed. I was heartbroken! But my amazing vet suggested we try a steroid to control and potentially shrink the tumor since it was inoperable. And while we thought she might only be around a few months, she was with us for two years! We lost Shadow 11 months ago on July 8. Suki became more vocal after Shadow was gone.

Max has had a challenging life – from a health perspective. When he was fairly young he had his first emergency surgery for Struvite crystals. I immediately put him on a prescription diet for it and Suki got to come along for the ride. After years with no problems, we decided to give regular food a shot. Bad idea and another emergency surgery! He was so angry after that one they had to use a net to get him out of the cage for me to take him home!

We chugged along for a while and I hoped that we would not have any more problems. Max was always thin and Suki was always… not… so it was not easy to notice that Max was getting TOO thin. He was diagnosed with overactive thyroid. After having NO fun trying to give him pills in the past I was not excited about the idea of 2 pills a day for the rest of his life. I was fairly certain he wouldn’t be either.

So he had Radioactive Iodine I-131 treatment. And he did well! And again, I hoped that would be the last and he would die of old age at 20 or something. But again, it was not to be.

A few months ago he got skinny again so I thought maybe his overactive thyroid had come back but that wasn’t it. Max was diagnosed as diabetic. On top of that the skinnier he got the more we could see the bones of his spine and hind quarters and they were not good. He had extensive arthritis.

So we put him (and Suki) on Diabetic food, and Max got Gabapentin for his spine. I hoped for a miracle – that he wouldn’t need Insulin – that he would regulate on the food alone.

He didn’t.

So I got to learn how to give him shots. And the vet got CBD oil to see if that would help his pain. We saw the vet weekly – more some weeks. And for a while he was heading in the right direction. But it didn’t stay that way. And one terrifying night he couldn’t walk.

I panicked and rushed him to the emergency vet. Thanks to COVID I could not even come inside – I had to sit in my car in the parking lot for hours waiting to hear if he was ok! They stabilized him and he ended up spending the night. When I picked him up the next day he looked good! He was alert, seemed much better! I figured out he crashed because he would eat a little and Suki would finish his food and hers. We know why she is heavy and it isn’t just the fur! So I hovered and I fed him constantly to make sure he didn’t crash again.

And I hoped.

While his glucose levels were not perfect and we hadn’t determined the best dosage and I was still hoping… And then he started getting fluid build up in his belly. The vet drained 40cc’s out and he felt much better! But his pancreas was huge, and the vet thought he probably had cancer which was the indirect cause of the fluid buildup. We added steroids – the same one that kept Shadow alive. Maybe I would get another miracle?

But while I hoped, my heart just kept getting heavier. Max could barely walk and was clearly not having a good quality of life. I struggled between hope that things would improve and the certainty I was being selfish by keeping him suffering. Anguish. 7×24. And Guilt. Gobs and Gobs of Guilt.

On June 3, he started acting strangely again. He had more fluid buildup and was wandering, dazed, and trying to wedge himself under different pieces of furniture. Heartbroken I decided I could not let him suffer any longer. Even if we got his diabetes under control, and even if the steroids helped with his pancreas and the fluid buildup, he was still in pain from the arthritis and could barely walk.

June 4 I called the vet. I cried and cried and held him as he passed. It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. Both Suki and I miss him so much! Suki walks around looking for him and cries almost incessantly if I’m not in sight. I’m hiding it better – most of the time.

Max was one of my best friends. He was always close by when I was home, unlike Suki who would disappear into the bedroom, closet, or other hiding place for hours. Max was always nearby. And now there is a hole in my heart and in my life.

I lost one of my best friends. So did Suki.

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